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Steve Oedekerk's Thumb Wars is a funny little 'filmette' that parodies the first Star Wars movie. 'Nothing new in that', I hear you cry, but Steve has chosen to employ a rather unique gimmick—all the characters in Thumb Wars are played by thumbs! Each thumb, suitably dressed and placed into miniature sized sets, has its own digitally added 'face' that conveys a surprising amount of emotion. I was already familiar with filmette after downloading it from the ‘net, but this DVD release offered the chance to see Thumb Wars on the big screen, rather than the confines of my PC monitor.

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle
Feature
Presumably set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Thumb Wars tells the story of humble farm boy Loke Groundrunner and his journey of self-discovery. Loke lives on a desolate planet with his uncle Soondead and aunt Gonnabiteit, and spends most of his time whining about one thing or another. However, all this changes when a couple of highly effeminate robots show up and his aunt and uncle are 'clipped' by the forces of the evil Galactic Thumbpire.

With nothing left to lose, Loke teams up with an old Thumbi Knight named Oobedoob 'Scooby Dooby' Benubi (he has the silliest name in the galaxy you know) and sets off to rescue the beautiful Princess Bunhead from the clutches of the Thumbpire's sinister enforcer, Black Helmet Man! Together with roguish space pirate Hand Duet (and his sidekick Crunchy), they steal aboard the Thumbpire's ultimate weapon—the Thumbstar!

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle
As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, the rest of the film loosely follows the plot of the original Star Wars, throwing in a few bits from the sequels for good measure. Along the way we learn the secret of an old Thumbi Master's power, and the true origins of both Loke Groundrunner and Black Helmet Man!

While short, Thumb Wars is hilarious stuff. The first time I saw it I was in stitches, and it still cracks me up even now. The voice acting is top-notch and really helps to sell the characters, and after a while you almost forget you're watching a bunch of thumbs dressed up in little costumes. Some of the best scenes are those lifted directly from Star Wars, such as the scene where Black Helmet Man chokes one of his underlings using only the power of the Thumb! One of the best things about Thumb Wars however, is the way I managed to convince my slightly naive girlfriend that Chewie really does have a brother named Crunchy… Bless. This edition contains more footage than the version I had previously seen, but thankfully the additions are mostly welcome.

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle
Video
Thumb Wars is presented in full frame 1.33:1, as was originally intended. My only previous experience of this short was the mpeg version I downloaded from the 'net, and obviously this transfer is a massive improvement in terms of image clarity. While unlikely to set new standards in video quality, this is a surprisingly good transfer that showcases the colourful sets and characters very nicely indeed.

Audio
Presented in plain old Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Thumb Wars won't exactly blow you away with its dynamic use of surround sound. That said, it's not really a necessity for this sort of filmette and the track is fine for the most part, with the all-important dialogue coming through nice and clear. However, the region one disc includes a Dolby 5.1 track that should have made it onto the region two disc. Points lost I'm afraid.

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle
Extras
Surprisingly, Thumb Wars comes with a fair smattering of supplemental material. First up we have a series of trailers for Oedekerk's other 'Thumb' films, namely Frankenthumb, Batthumb, Thumbtanic, The Godthumb and The Blair Thumb. Most of these are pretty funny, and both The Godthumb and Thumbtanic definitely look like ones to watch. Thumbtanic, for one, features a hilariously realistic parody of Celine Dione! Next up comes an interview with Gabba the Butt, which is quite amusing, if a little short. A storyboard gallery follows, backed up by some humorous character biographies that tell you a little more about the strange thumbs that inhabit Oedekerk's Thumb Wars universe. The last extra, and without doubt the best, is the commentary from Oedekerk and Paul Marshall. This runs for the full twenty-nine minute duration, thankfully without too many pauses, and is often quite informative and amusing.

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle
Overall
Perhaps it's just because I'm a sad, hopeless old Star Wars fan, but I really enjoyed Thumb Wars. As far as I'm concerned it's a hell of a lot better than that other famous Star Wars parody, Hardware Wars. Should you buy it? Well, it is a little short, and replay value might be a tad limited, but you can pick the disc up for as little as eight pounds so there's really no reason not to indulge yourselves. For once it's nice to review something that doesn't rely on fancy CGI and surround sound to impress, but rather some genuinely funny material. It is for this reason that Thumb Wars comes recommended.


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